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Kids Crafts -
Make A Compass




Supplies

  • Sewing needle, 1 inch long.
  • Small bar magnet (refrigerator magnets may work)
  • A small piece of cork.
  • A small glass or cup of water to float the cork and needle.

    How To Make It

    1. Your compass will work better if you first run a magnet over the needle a few times, always in the same direction. This action 'magnetizes' is to some extent.
    2. Cut off a small circle from one end of the cork, and drive the needle through it, from one end of the circle to the other, instead of through the exact middle
    3. Float the cork and needle in your cup of water so the floating needle lies roughly parallel to the surface of the water.
    4. Place your compass on a still surface and watch what happens. The needle should come to point towards the nearest magnetic pole (north or south as the case may be)
    5. If you want to experiment further, try placing a magnet near your compass and watch what happens.

    Notes:

    The earth produces a magnetic field. This field, although weak, is sufficient to align iron and other paramagnetic compounds such as your needle within it. By floating the needle on the cork, you let it rotate freely so it can orient itself within the earth's magnetic field, to point toward the north or south poles of the planet.

    Back to Kids Craft Corner

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